Is Coachella a better music festival than Woodstock?

The three-day music festival circuit changed the way people see and hear live music. It's an experience that allows fans to submerge themselves into the best of American pop culture, while giving bands exposure to thousands of people.

The Woodstock Festival of 1969 is often attributed as one of the most influential festivals in history. It had many failed attempts, including its ‘99 downfall, but Woodstock ’69 is often referred to as the original Woodstock. The festival evolved into an icon for hippie counterculture and emphasized the magnitude of rock and roll.  The atmosphere embodied the culture of the attendees, which meant an abundance of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

From Woodstock sprouted a culture of three-day music festivals: Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Sasquatch, Burning Man and more.  People flood in from all over the world to indulge in the ecstasy of music, dance and lots of sweat. 

These festivals are better referred to as experiences because they offer more than just music. Modern day festivals include a variety of food and arts promotion, and the people you meet make the difference in your experience. People attending the festival fall on a spectrum of “I simply came here for good music” to “paint my face and find me." 

Some refer to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival as the modern day Woodstock.  Coachella fell on the map in ‘99 with Rage Against the Machine, Beck and Tool as headliners. Since then, its success has grown each year. 

This year the headliners are AC/DC, Jack White and Drake. In addition to rock and roll, Coachella also promotes electronic music, indie-rock and just about everything in between.

While the culture of music festivals has changed, one thing you can count on is the slight marijuana breeze filling the air at both festivals.  

There are huge economical differences between the two festivals. Woodstock tickets cost $18, while Coachella charges $335 a ticket during pre-sale, with the additional cost of buying a campsite.

The mass culture of the festivals evolved from hippies to hipsters. A hipster's lifestyle centers on going against the cultural mainstream. Imagine the people of Woodstock fussing for weeks about finding the perfect outfit so they could snap the best picture for their Instagram. People worried about different things then and now.

A heavy social media presence impacts the amount of spontaneity allowed. When the pressure is on to have the best outfit or picture, it prevents people from being in the moment and simply enjoying good music. Some highlights of this year’s Coachella include charging stations and Wi-Fi.

The first weekend of Coachella 2015 falls on April 10-12. For those attending, remember to enjoy some moments without thinking about social media. If your painted face doesn't make it to Twitter, I promise it still happened.

Reach the reporter at randrew3@asu.edu or follow @rachelandrewss on Twitter.

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